Being injured as a result of someone else's negligence can be difficult to deal with. If you have sought the help of a personal injury attorney, you likely feel that a huge burden has been lifted off your shoulders. You may have already met with your attorney and filled him in on the information related to your injury. At that meeting your attorney will most likely give you an idea of the sequence of events for seeking damages in a personal injury claim. You may have heard your attorney mention the word "settlement". The word itself seems to be an indicator of your desired outcome on the case, and you can't help but feel that settling would be a great idea. Here are some important points you should know about settlements.
Once your attorney has all the information about the incident, he will send the opposing party and/or their insurance company a demand letter. This letter will include:
- Complete details about the injury.
- A summary of the medical care required, including any future care.
- How your life has been affected by the injury.
- The reason why you believe that the opposing party is responsible for the injury.
- The amount you are asking to be paid.
How much should you ask for?
- Medical expenses, including future medical expenses.
- Lost wages: the money you would have earned if not for the accident, even if you were able to use paid time off or sick leave, and potential earnings if you will continue to need time off. If your injuries are severe enough, the lost wages for the future should be considered.
- Personal property damage such as a car or other personal belongings.
- Pain and suffering
The demand letter will be construed by the opposing side as an outline of your case should it proceed to court. Going to court is expensive for both sides, can be lengthy and may be hard on you physically if you are still suffering from your injuries. If the demand letter presents a valid case, the opposing side may offer to settle with you. If the demands in the letter are agreed upon by the opposing side, your case will be settled without further negotiation.
Many times, however, the demand letter simply opens the door for the negotiations to begin. The opposing party may respond to the demand letter with a counteroffer, which will be a lesser amount than you asked for. Avoiding going to trial is important, but the counteroffer should be high enough to meet your needs.
You can count on your attorney to use his best negotiation skills to get you your desired settlement and avoid going to court. Settlement may the best option, but trust your attorney to use his years of experience to advise you on the best course of action. For more information, talk with an accident attorney who can provide guidance.